I’ve always been fond of drawing applications. The possibility to give your creativity total freedom without wasting paper and pencils is just too good to be resisted by an amateur painter like me. And OpenCanvas is certainly one of the best options when moving on from real hair brushes to digital design.
The installation process takes only a few minutes, after which you can begin drawing right away. OpenCanvas features a simple friendly interface, even for first-time users. Also, note that if you’re used to Photoshop, you’ll find OpenCanvas extremely familiar, as it follows the same basic guidelines: a large working area with floating windows displaying tools, settings, color palette and so on. In fact, many of the app’s keyboard shortcuts are the same as in Photoshop: B for brush, M for selecting an area, V for moving it, Ctrl + D to deselect it, the spacebar to move around your picture, Ctrl + plus or minus sign to zoom in or out, etc.
OpenCanvas features a specially rich brush menu, including all the drawing tools you may need in your artistic creative process: pencils, markers, water color, oil color, pastel… There are also special tools such as “Spread” or “Fingertip” that let you play around with the colors you add to your canvas. All of them try to resemble the look and feel of the real thing with quite satisfying results, although I’m sure the sensation will be much better if you use a graphic tablet and pen instead of the standard mouse.
The program supports layers, thus allowing you to organize your job much more easily. However, the layer tools and settings are hidden away somewhat and not very comfortable to use. There’s a handy Undo feature but unfortunately it only works for the last eight actions and the program also lacks a history window to follow all the changes made to the picture. Another downside to OpenCanvas is its number of supported file formats (just four) but at least PSD is included among them, which allows you to share graphic work with Photoshop.
In summary, OpenCanvas lets you experiment with traditional painting while enjoying the advantages of computer design: stain-free working area, inexpensive drawing tools and a brand new canvas every time you press Ctrl+N.